Bonum Certa Men Certa

Gemini Links 08/05/2023: Recalling Tradewars, Suckless Window Manager, and More

  • Gemini* and Gopher

    • Personal

      • Mercedes team mates 🏎

        The Mercedes car is difficult again this season. They're a long way from Red Bull's pace. But of their two drivers, Russell seems less bothered by it that Hamilton. In commentary, Coulthard said this is the best car that Russell has ever had, whereas Hamilton is used to a car that can win. They are coming at the problem from different head spaces.

        Hamilton's been around for long enough that he knows how far away they are, and he seems dispirited by that. There's only so much that he can do to make up for the deficiencies. He's getting near the end of his career, and it's quite possible that he'll not have another car good enough for a championship before he retires. But Russell is going to be a round for longer. He's doing a good job against a team mate with extraordinary stats. If the car comes good he knows that he can challenge. And if it doesn't, he's going to have other teams interested.

      • Why not 'inquiry'?

        Just a quick off topic/title update on today:

        Went all the way to the courthouse, through the metal detector, up an elevator no doubt teeming with COVID :-), only to learn from the person taking names that - as they'd allegedly informed me (she didn't say how) - I was granted reprieve from the entire jury selection period (of three months) due to my dad's possible need for my care.

        Except they didn't inform of that. Instead, my sister fly from several states away to care for dad (his current woman needed a cruise..).

        2023, yet communication is still rocket science.

      • Episode 48 Elephants

        Elephants are cool in war, and they have ivory tusks. Do you want your players to be poachers?

      • I'd rather be Ferrari than Ford

        The movie "Ford Vs Ferrari" is a great watch, and you can't help but root for the Ford team. It was an inspiring story in one light, while also being a tragedy when looked at from a different light.

        Something that I've given a lot of thought to in my life is how our society seems to be in a perpetual race towards mediocrity. When I ws a kid there were still a lot of little independent stores on Main Street, one of them being Hummel's grocery, which was a little mom and pop grocery store that had been there for a few generations. Another favorite of mine was Jack Frost, a little combination candy shop and Greek diner where there was a spit of lanb cooking behind the counter and a little Ms Pacman table to waste some time on. They had awesome gyros. Then too, we had an honest to goodness drive in diner called Maxi's, where you could get a hot dog and fries if you wanted but the real attraction was the homemade root beer. And when my dad wanted lumber or other supplies for one of our numerous home improvement projects, he had 84 Lumber or Stambaughs to choose from and could get just about any domestic hardwood he wanted, in stock.

        All of those places are gone. That town has a WalMart, a Home Depot, and a whole army of chain restaurants now. It's depressing.

      • Duolingo

        I've wanted to learn Irish for years. Ages ago the best resource online was a website that had some, uhhh, sketchy real world connections. But the Duolingo owl can be easily summoned on the phone. So, it begins. Girl and woman. Boy and man. Variations on "I". Apple, water, is, has, eat.

    • Technical

      • What is Tradewars?

        Tradewars is a classic multiplayer game that was first released in 1984. It was one of the earliest examples of a game that could be played by multiple users over a network, and it quickly became popular among computer enthusiasts.

        The game is set in space, and players take on the role of space traders who must navigate the galaxy, trading goods and resources with other players. Along the way, they must also defend themselves against pirates and other threats.

      • IPsec, Rust, burritos, stew

        This is yet another post with assorted news, on both IT and cooking.

        A few weeks ago I have set an IPsec VPN, mostly used for home devices, with strongSwan (on both computers, with Debian systems, and mobile devices, with Android: a mobile version is available via F-Droid): password-based authentication (eap-mschapv2) for clients, pubkey authentication (with a personal CA and its certificate manually imported everywhere) for the server. Maybe I would rather use a pre-shared key authentication for both (with it being simpler), but the Android client does not seem to support that. Have set it with static addresses for "roadwarriors", so that they can be identified by an address, and making them available to each other. Tried SIP on top of it: baresip works mostly fine on Android (without video), Twinkle mostly works on Debian (apparently requires user names though), and though I tried Kamailio as a router initially, it is not that useful with static addresses (since P2P can be used easily then). Though most SIP clients support SRTP (and ZRTP), along with TLS. Also tried to control a remote mpd and listen to its streams via M.A.L.P. (also available from F-Droid), which does work. Maybe it could be useful for rsync as well, since it doesn't have encryption on its own (though it is commonly used over SSH, which is more straightforward than setting up IPsec). I have not yet investigated how it works with ICE and XMPP's Jingle: maybe it would help to establish more efficient connections, going through a local machine instead of a remote TURN server (though then again, it is easier to achieve by just setting local XMPP and TURN servers). Anyway, IPsec is nice and it feels good to have it set, at least for a few local machines, even though it is not quite useful to me currently.

      • Suckless window manager

        One of my computer environments is a text-only session supported by tmux. I am using it with much joy for over two years. I'm working also with many true window managers, on Apple, Windows, and GNU/Linux systems. But I am enjoying that almost-true window manager made above of tmux the most. In the passing weeks, I read about Suckless Dynamic Windows Manager aka. dwm. Because of several holiday days, I had the possibility to install dwm on my own, and I realized that it's so similar to my tmux experiences but in a graphical environment. I've set it up as my main window manager and the time spent on playing with it was very good for me.

        When we are looking at [dwm Tutorial] we are able to get the whole concept of that program by looking only at the ASCII sketch which I copied below. So we have a base concept created by: /tags/, /title/, /status/, /master/, and /stack/ terms. And that is all!

      • AI Questionnaire

        A researcher in artistic applications of AI contacted me because some of my projects may have given the impression that I was working with AI, which I don't consider to be the case. However, as our preliminary exchange clarified, there is an EU definition that seems to cast the net wide and would include even very simple Markov models. Now, in fact, my Peptalk program does use a first order Markov transition matrix for letter combinations used to create nonsense words in its own polyglottally trained language. But really, would anyone seriously hype up such a thing as being AI?


        When using software written by others, I tend to prefer that which is more transparent about what goes on inside. For example, I use a small subset of Csound for sound synthesis and processing and, when feasible, I write my own programs in C/C++ where I (hopefully) have a detailed understanding of what the program does. The approach is very different from having to deal with the black boxes of proprietary plugins, which I also use to some extent. With machine learning, it appears that no-one understands exactly how it comes that a model achieves what it does. In my algorithmic compositions, I program everything myself from low level routines for sound synthesis to the generation of the entire piece. A curiosity about algorithms or formalised representations of music has been an incentive for this work. Thus, it would be pointless to trust a third party readymade composition program with a few parameters to tweak, instead of having to engage in the modeling from the ground.

        Evolutionary computing was in the vogue when I did my PhD, and since I worked on sound synthesis, feature extraction, and algorithmic composition, it was almost expected that I too should find use for evolutionary algorithms. But I didn't. Limited programming skills may have stopped me, but most of all, I needed a subjective evaluation in the loop which I never found a way to formalise away.

* Gemini (Primer) links can be opened using Gemini software. It's like the World Wide Web but a lot lighter.

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